Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
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Yes, says Christopher G. Owen, Ph.D., senior lecturer in epidemiology, St. George's, University of London, England, and author of a Pediatrics article on infant feeding and the risk of obesity.
Early weaning may lead to alcohol abuse later in life, especially in boys, according to a Danish study of people born between 1959 and 1961. Of the study's 6,562 subjects, 138 were hospitalized for alcoholism, including twice as many men as women. Those who'd been breastfed for less than one month were nearly one and a half times more likely to have alcohol-related problems as those who nursed longer. The researchers suspect mother's milk contains nutrients that fuel brain development and protect against low intelligence and other deficits which might foreshadow alcohol dependence.
The new World Health Organization (WHO) growth charts reflect data on children fed only breast milk and water for their first 4 to 6 months. If this sounds like your baby, check out the abbreviated chart below for median weight guidelines (in pounds) derived from the WHO data.
August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. The breastfeeding campaign, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, hopes to empower women to commit to breastfeeding by highlighting new research showing that babies who are exclusively breastfed for six months are less likely to develop ear infections, diarrhea and respiratory illnesses, and may be less likely to develop childhood obesity.
"I had bilateral silicone implants placed at age 17," says Kristen, a 39-year-old mother of two. "I nursed both of my children with no complications or problems. I even had a ruptured implant, which was encapsulated by scar tissue, and my doctor still recommended breastfeeding."
I recently saw an article on the basics of breastfeeding. It was titled "Breastfeeding Bliss." I nearly laughed out loud. Bliss isn't what comes to mind when I think about my own early efforts to nurse.
When I was pregnant, I studied for motherhood as if I was preparing for the bar exam. I read everything I could find on nursing, talked with other moms and even took a breastfeeding class. I was ready. But when my baby arrived, nourishing him was not what I'd expected.
Latching your baby on correctly whenever he's interested should head off most breastfeeding problems. But here are some other tips:
Attend a La Leche League International meeting (lalecheleague.org) to learn how others solved common challenges. Line up a lactation consultant to call in case of problems. Read the recently updated classic, The Nursing Mother's Companion by Kathleen Huggins, R.N. (Harvard Common Press, 2005).
Drink Mother's Milk Tea The tea seemed to make everything feel better. It also gave me a moment of peace, a moment for me, a moment for my boobs to recoup.
-- Kirsten Kemp, Santa Barbara, Calif.; mother of Walker, 5; and Nola, 2
Breastfeeding: it's one of the most natural and intimate of all human interactions. But, just because it's natural doesn't mean it's easy—especially in those first few overwhelming weeks with your newborn.
Breastfeeding takes knowledge and practice. You've got a million questions about how to get it right. And, luckily, you've come to the right place.